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Cohen hearing: Tlaib, Meadows, Cummings exchange over racism and Trump

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A freshman Democratic lawmaker, a veteran Democrat, and a close GOP ally of President Donald Trump had an emotional exchange on racism and the president during Michael Cohen’s dramatic testimony before Congress on Wednesday.

Toward the end of the House Oversight Committee hearing, freshman Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan echoed some of her other colleagues who’d criticized Meadows for bringing a black Trump administration employee — Lynne Patton — to the proceedings to make the case the president isn’t racist.

Read more: Trump doesn’t deny calling African countries ‘shitholes’ while meeting with Nigeria’s president

Tlaib said, “Just because someone has a person of color, a black person, working for them does not mean they aren’t racist and … the fact someone would actually use a prop, a black woman in this chamber, in this committee, is alone racist in itself.”

Meadows, the ranking member, was aghast at Tlaib’s comments and took them to mean she was calling him racist.

A brief shouting match ensued between Meadows and House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings of Maryland.

Cummings asserted his authority, firmly stating, “Mr. Meadows. I’m the chair!”

After being pressed by Cummings on what she meant, Tlaib eventually clarified her remarks on Meadows’ decision to bring Patton to the hearing, stating, “As a person of color in this committee, that’s how I felt at that moment and I wanted to express that. I am not calling the gentleman, Mr. Meadows, a racist, for doing so, I’m saying that, in itself, it is a racist act.”

Meadows then noted he has nieces and nephews who are “people of color,” adding, “not many people know that.”

The Republican lawmaker from North Carolina went on to say, “To indicate that I asked someone who is a personal friend of the Trump family … that’s she’s coming in to be a prop, it’s racist to suggest that I asked her to come in for that reason.”

In response, Cummings said, “If there’s anyone who is sensitive with regard to race, it’s me. A son of former sharecroppers that were basically slaves. So I get it.”

Cummings then said that he listened to Tlaib “very carefully” and concluded that she was not calling Meadows a racist. He also said that Meadows is one of his “best friends” on the committee, adding that this fact likely “shocks a lot of people.”

Tlaib apologized to Meadows once again and he thanked her, which seemingly resolved the tense situation.

It was perhaps the most heated moment in a day full of remarks on racism and the president’s rhetoric with regards to race.

Earlier in the day, Cohen said Trump is a “racist” who once told him black people were “too stupid” to vote for him.

Trump has long faced accusations of racism, particularly for perpetuating a conspiracy theory that former President Barack Obama was not born in the US, but in Kenya. In 2012, Meadows seemed to endorse that conspiracy theory at a campaign stop when he said, “2012 is the time we are going to send Mr. Obama home to Kenya or wherever it is.”

Read more about Cohen’s testimony:

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